Last week, we looked at the backstop situation in the Pacific Division, with the Vegas netminders being a positive surprise and the Canucks goalies playing well below expectations. This week, we will be looking at the best and worst goalie tandems in the Metro Division so far this season.
Before the season began, the majority of hockey insiders were predicting that either the New York Rangers or the Carolina Hurricanes would win the Metro. A month into the season, neither of those teams is on top of the division, and goaltending has been a big reason why that is the case.
The Best and Worst Goalie Tandems in the Metro Division so Far This Season
Best: New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin: 10-5-0; 0.933 SV%; 2.19 GAA; 2 SO
Semyon Varlamov: 4-3-0; .914 SV%; 2.97 GAA
It has been known for a while that Ilya Sorokin was a goalie on the rise. After putting up good numbers last year on a bad Islanders team (2.40 GAA, 0.925 SV%), it appears that this is the year he really starts to stand out in the NHL. In his second full year as a starter, he has been nothing short of excellent for the rebounding New York Islanders, and the team is currently in second place in the division because of it. The Islanders were 20th in the league last season, so this start has been a big turnaround for the team.
Semyon Varlamov has also played his part this season. He has been a more than capable backup, allowing the Islanders to give Sorokin rest whenever he has needed it. The pair’s advanced stats have been the best in the division and some of the best in the NHL. They have combined for a GSAx of 17 so far this season and a GSAx/60 of 0.779. If this tandem can keep up their hot start, the Islanders could be in line for a deep playoff run this season and Sorokin may soon be seen as one of the best contracts in hockey.
Honorable Mention: Philadelphia Flyers (Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom)
Worst: Columbus Blue Jackets
Elvis Merzlikins: 2-5-0; 0.864 SV%; 4.74 GAA
Joonas Korpisalo: 3-4-1; 0.899 SV%; 3.75 GAA
There was an air of excitement about the Columbus Blue Jackets to start the season. They were able to sign marque free-agent forward Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year contract, brought in Erik Gudbranson to bolster the defense, and re-signed sniper Patrik Laine to a four-year deal. Unfortunately for Columbus, the team has not been able to capitalize on its pre-season buzz. This has been due in large part to the poor play of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo.
Neither of the two goalies has good counting numbers; their combined goals-against average is 4.25 and their combined save percentage is 0.882. However, it is Merzlikins whose play has been especially shocking. An above-average goalie last season, Merzlikins has plummeted to the bottom of the league in both GSAx (-12.9) and GSAx/60 (-1.698). With numbers like these, it is no surprise that the Blue Jackets find themselves at the bottom of the Metro and 16th overall in the Eastern Conference. Unless things turn around quickly, Columbus will find themselves with a top ten draft pick for the third season in a row.
Fun Fact: Along with holding the NHL records for wins (691), shutouts (125), and games played (1266), Martin Brodeur also holds the record for the most goals against (2781). Right behind him in goals against is Grant Fuhr with 2756, which he allowed in 868 career games.